Sick Transit - Sound In The Signals Interview

I recently had the chance to interview Sick Transit. Check out the full interview below!

For anyone who isn't familiar with your band can you tell me how you got together and what got you interested in music?

Jack Kessler (Lead Singer and Guitarist): I guess I really got into music when I heard Modest Mouse’s “Float On.” I loved the song so much I had an older kid on my block burn me a CD copy of it. I played it like three times every morning before elementary school. I would stand on the kitchen table and sing to it while my parents tried to get me out the door. From there, it was Green Day, Bruce Springsteen (via my father’s strong influence), Blink-182 and countless other rock and punk bands. I picked up the guitar in the second grade and never put it back down again. When my little heart got broken by the girl of my dreams during middle school, I knew I had to get my feels out in a song. It took me until the tenth grade to finally start writing. Until then, it had just been countless covers on my own in the garage. Everything from NOFX to the Vandals. When I met Sam through one of my parents’ mutual friends, our other friend Adam and I quickly formed Sick Transit. The lyrics started flowing and the neighbors started complaining. The rest is history.

Sam (Drummer): For me, music basically became apart of my life even before I was born. My parents would play Classic Rock and put headphones on my Mom’s stomach so it would like, echo to me. When I was finally born, they continued to play all those bands that, really, everyone should know like The Beatles, The Stones, Zeppelin, The Who (my personal favorite Classic Rock band), etc. My dad even made lullaby renditions of some of his favorite blues/rock songs and played them on his acoustic guitar. They were pretty set on me being exposed to that kind of music early on in my life so I wouldn’t get sucked into all that radio pop music that they didn’t favor too much. Later on, around the time I entered the third grade, I discovered Green Day and “American Idiot” became the first album that I ever bought with my own money. I was obsessed with that album (still am). I just really wanted to dress and be like Billie Joe Armstrong with the short sleeve, black button up shirt, bright red tie, spikey hair, and “guy-liner”. I eventually discovered more bands after Green Day like Blink-182, Sum 41, New Found Glory, AFI, Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco, and My Chemical Romance which they all then became my life. Around the end of Elementary school, I was so obsessed with the music I loved that I wanted to be like all of band members, so I decided to pick up an instrument. I asked my Dad what he used to play before he played guitar and he suggested that I pick up drums. From that point on, it’s all history. Around the end of Middle School and start of High School, I got more immersed in music and got into heavier music like A Day to Remember, Of Mice & Men, Bring Me The Horizon, and other bands like that. I started playing in bands, playing shows, and just getting more serious about drumming. A couple years down the line, I meet Jack for the first time, and like he said, we immediately formed Sick Transit. Now we’re here, playing Pop Punk, which was the kind of music that was the foundation of what really got me into music. I owe that kind of music, and the scene that came with it, my everything.

You just released your newest album 'Act Your Age' not that long ago. Can you tell me a little about the recording and writing process for the album? How long did you work on it?

Jack: The album is a collection of basically everything we wrote and completed as “show worthy songs” over the past three years. In terms of writing, it was just me in the beginning. I would start with lyrics and guitar parts and bring them to Sam and Adam to get the full band behind it. As a result, the songs are pretty simple and straightforward. After loosing Adam, Sam and I got a lot closer in terms of collaborating during the writing process. I would still mostly write lyrics on my own but getting the music down with Sam brought out all these new sounds and flavors that can be heard on our second EP, “Deminos.” Soon after, Sam started bringing in full songs and we really came together as a single, song-producing unit. After releasing two EPs and completing about 6 or 7 more songs after that we felt ready for a full album. The album itself took a long time to get off the ground. We had had most of the songs for over two years before recording it. In fact, during the summer of 2015 we recorded a full length EP with our then-new bassist Nik. It contained the same songs as “Act Your Age”. It was mixed terribly and we ended up writing off the finished product as a demo collection. It took over a year of fine-tuning and pooling funds to get into the studio this summer. We ended up dropping and adding a few songs, most notably adding “Act Your Age” and “Friends”. We walked into the studio with a 15 song track-list and started banging them out. The recording process was fantastic. We had a great engineer, Rob Duffy, from Kingsize Sound Labs and the whole process was smooth and simple.

One thing I really like about the album is you start it with your acoustic track and it's a personal favorite of mine. So often bands from the punk or pop/punk world have what has become the "traditional" acoustic closer. What made you guys want to start with that song instead? What was the writing process in like for the song?

Jack: It’s actually kind of a funny story. There was another track that was supposed to open the album. It was a kind of joke track about Matt Damon (which would then explain the Matt Damon reference in the last song, “Sayounara”). We recorded it but something didn’t feel right. Sam then brought up the song “Act Your Age”. He had all the lyrics down and a melody in his head. We went home that day after tracking and knocked it out. With just minor adjustments and a whole lot of my frustration we got a finished product down and demoed that day. We spent the final minutes of our final day in the studio squeezing that song onto the album.

Sam: Like Jack pointed out, “Act Your Age” was literally a last minute add-on. The Matt Damon joke was an inside joke that Jack and I had and personally, I felt that maybe the joke wouldn’t get to as many people as it did for us. So I looked into my files of old songs that I had written, but never brought forth to the band, and found this one. I always thought that this would be an acoustic song too. I rewrote most of it so it would fit into the album more and thought maybe the guys would like this more as an opener so we could all agree and be happy with how our album would open. They both really liked it and as Jack said, we went back into the studio, recorded it quick, and now it’s our opening track. And personally, I thought an acoustic opener would be cool because, like you said, not many Punk/Pop Punk bands choose to open with their acoustic song. I thought “Act Your Age” really tied the album together as a whole like a synopsis, where we hint at what we’ll be singing about for the next 14 tracks. It just made a lot more sense to have this song open our album rather than a song that was kind of half-assed written and based off a joke only Jack and I knew.

Who came up with concept for the artwork and how did it all come together?

Sam: It was almost like a big collaboration idea from all of us. Granted, and more or less my fault, it became more of my idea with having a guy sit on stairs with a paper bag on his head. But I wanted to make sure that everyone in the band got something in there that they wanted. So I asked my good friend Sam Lane to help us out with making this album cover come to life. She helped us with taking the picture of our friend Nathan, the bassists from The Blank Minds, who was the one wearing the paper bag over his head. Then she added in original drawings because our bassist wanted some drawings on our album cover. Both Jack and him also wanted “Pkwy Calabasas” (another inside joke) somewhere in the cover, so she was able to put that on one of the characters she drew. Honestly, this album cover came out way better than I could have ever dreamt and it’s all thanks to her. I thought that by having the main character wear a paper bag on the cover, it would kind of take away that  “general identity” of anyone who deals with whatever we talk about in the album. Whether its about relationships, friends, people that piss you off, or dogs that won’t eat fruit, it’s not just one kind of person that deals with these kinds of things. To have someone on the cover with a bag over his face, it makes it then seem like it could be anyone who deals with these problems, no matter who they are.

I guess that wraps it up. Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Do you have anything else you would like to add?

Jack: Thank you guys at Sound in the Signals for taking the time to talk to us. We really appreciate it.

Sam: And thank you to everyone who took the time to check this interview out. Sound in the Signals is a rad website that everyone should be checking out. And if you like what we said or want to hear our music, check us out on our social medias like Facebook, Instagram, Bandcamp, and Soundcloud.

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